Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life And Death (2006)

We all know that Iron Maiden always have had a progressive vein in their music, but it was not until the release of the fourteenth album "A Matter of Life And Death" where the band really spread its wings and pushed their boundaries. Just the fact that the first single from the album was the heavy 7 minute piece "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg", was enough evidence to prove that this album would be the band's grandest creation ever. But even if some of the strongest moments of the band has come through epic creations, I have always thought of "A Matter of Life And Death" as that mediocre album that every band eventually does. Sure, it was nice to hear that Maiden still evolved in their musical writing, but how good of a shape was they really in?

I will admit that this album has its moments. Some of the really epic pieces, like "For The Greater Good of God" and "Brighter Than A Thousand Suns", leaves a huge impression on me since they succeed in being grand and epic without taking it over the top. Also love the fact that "Brighter Than A Thousand Suns" changes its direction several times without losing the sight of its target. I also like the heaviness of "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg", but I still think it is not suitable to be a single.

Those three are the top marks of "A Matter of Life And Death", so it bums me out that the rest of the album does not hold the same standard. The second single "Different World" (whom just like "Wildest Dreams" have a great animated music video) is a nice song, but it feels largely misplaced together with all these progressive tunes, and "These Colours Don't Run" has a good epic feel, but the chorus feels like someone slammed the brakes in the middle of a Formula 1 race. And the rest? Well, they are either missing a notable personality or they are just not good enough. None of the songs are necessarily bad, they are just not good enough to get a big recognition.

I also have to make a remark on the production of this album. This album is actually not mastered. The reason is that Steve Harris wanted a more Live like sound. It definitely sounds good, but I miss some of Harris's sweet bass lines in this album. Otherwise, there is very little to complain about the production, it is more or less flawless as usual. And by the way, this is without a doubt the worst album cover in the Maiden discography just because Eddie does not take as much space as he usually does (he is on top of the tank, for those of you who has not noticed).

"A Matter of Life And Death" is certainly a good album, but this was the first album in the Maiden discography that I would label under progressive metal. The band is making a good effort and lands on a few big hits with "Brighter Than A Thousand Suns" and "For The Greater Good of God", but not even Maiden is good enough to get something new right the first time around. So this album gets a respectable 7 from me, the same rating I gave "Piece of Mind". And I can guarantee that if you loved "Piece of Mind", then you will probably learn to love "A Matter of Life And Death" just as much.

Songs worthy of recognition: Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, For The Greater Good of God, The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg

Rating: 7/10 Pilgrims

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